Dear One Harbor Church Family,


As you probably know, we enter into Phase 2 of reopening NC tomorrow, May 22nd. We learned in the Governor’s briefing on May 20th that in this second phase we are still urged to exercise caution in an effort to keep the spread of COVID-19 down. What does that mean for One Harbor? 


The following is not a commentary on what businesses or restaurants or schools should do, nor is it about what other churches choose to do. This is about what we at One Harbor are going to do regarding our Sunday gatherings. We understand that there are many views on this, so rather than just telling you what we are doing, we want to help you appreciate the complexity of this decision.

When And How To Re-gather

As A Church Is A Complex Decision

If you’ve been following this, there are two sides to the coin. On one side, you have the State-mandated social guidelines of ten or less meeting indoors for this next phase. On the other side, you have the Federal Judge overruling this as unconstitutional for churches. So, gathering is now legal for churches.


However, worldwide we have seen that churches, in particular, have a role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19 because of the nature of how we meet and interact. Large outbreaks and deaths have been directly linked to churches and congregational singing. Larger churches have an even bigger role as the amount of people in a room who get exposed is multiplied significantly.


So it’s technically legal for us to meet, but not advised considering the amount of people in our church and the way that those people interact, which makes for a more conducive environment for the virus to spread. That now makes this more of a moral or ethical dilemma than a straightforwardly legal one. The real question isn’t what CAN we do; it’s what SHOULD we do? In this confusing time, the Bible gives us God’s wisdom on how to live.

God Calls Us To Be A People Who

Consider The Good Of Others

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24


So, it’s LAWFUL to meet but is it HELPFUL? Does it seek our own good or the good of our neighbors? That’s the question every church has to wrestle with and, by the way, other churches will come to different conclusions, and that’s OK. As a church, we want to model the same humility and charity towards other churches that we would want them to extend to us. All pastors are leading through something unprecedented and doing the best they can.


For Phase Two, out of an abundance of caution for those both inside and outside of our church, the pastors of One Harbor Church feel it is still too soon to regather in large groups. Over 2,000 people worship at One Harbor services on Sundays. Not only are these numbers large, we are in the time of year where lots of tourists visit our area and many of them attend One Harbor services. That further escalates the risk considering these folks may be traveling in from areas with a much higher number of COVID-19 cases. We are uncomfortable with this level of risk and we don’t want to be the source of an outbreak that overwhelms our medical services and takes the lives of people in our community. 


Some have pointed out that Lowes and Wal-Mart are open, and they have similar sized groups of people in their buildings. From a numbers perspective that is true. However, the way that the church interacts should look much different than a trip to the store. We are the body of Jesus, the family of God and we LOVE to be together. When we come together, it’s marked with hugs, laying on hands to pray for one another, taking communion, singing loudly our love for God, sitting close and hearing the Word preached together, and having our kid’s play together as they hear about how amazing Jesus is, etc. 


Others rightly point out that God is in control and may conclude that we should just throw caution to the wind and begin meeting together as normal. To those folks, we would gently reference the response Jesus had to the temptation to throw himself off of a cliff because God would come through and protect him.


“Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – Matthew 4:7


So, yes God is sovereign, but we shouldn’t be foolish in a way that tests his sovereignty.


Ok, so we are not meeting in a corporate way indoors yet…so what SHOULD we do? Just hang out at the beach & do yard work until this is all over? Just watch the sermon in our pajamas by ourselves? By no means!

We Must Start

Meeting Together Again

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:23-25


In a moment when meeting together was hard and being abandoned, the writer of Hebrews calls them to hold the line because Jesus is still in charge and to CONSIDER how to still be a meaningful part of Christian community by being a blessing to others. He says, “DON’T stop meeting together!”


That word “consider” is important. It means to think about it up & down and to concentrate fully on understanding to get a conclusion. We are, in this moment, to “consider” how to still be the church in a time when it isn’t obvious.


This is a defining moment for all of us. This is our moment to ask the question that our brothers and sisters around the world in persecuted countries must ask all the time, “Do we still believe in church when it’s not easy?”


The answer is obviously, “Yes!” — but how do we do that when it’s unsafe in large groups?

We Will Meet Together

in Small Groups in Homes

We are regathering as one church in many locations across our region. Rather than Community Groups gathering in the middle of the week, we are moving all of our gatherings to Sundays. The small groups will gather at either 10AM or 6PM on Sundays, so although we are spread out, we will all be worshiping simultaneously. These small groups allow us to still gather as the church together, while greatly reducing the risk of large groups of people being infected through our gathering.


I know what some of you are thinking: “Church in a living room; weird!” That’s actually how One Harbor Church started, and God did big things.  That same God who was faithful to us then is faithful to us now. That same God who used us to encourage and love each other then wants to do that to us now. 


He is still faithful and we still need each other. Remember what we always say; “Lone rangers are dead rangers!” Not only does God have a plan to grow us through this phase, the enemy has a plan to isolate us and take us out!


“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8


You can watch a sermon by yourself, but you can’t encourage yourself and pray for yourself like others can. Also, others need to be encouraged by you. Scripture shows us that we are part of a body which means we don’t just receive, we give! You need others and others need you.

Here’s How We

Move Forward Together

Starting June 7th, we hope to move from being one church with four locations to one church with over 150 locations!


Imagine every neighborhood in our region having a home or multiple homes where folks from our church are gathering to worship, hear the word, pray for and encourage one another. What an awesome opportunity! In fact, this has already started to happen and we want to see that build until we’re able to regather in our buildings.


It is our desire to stay as close as possible to the state’s guidelines for Phase 2. That being said, an exception has been granted to worship services, which means we are not bound by the requirement to keep groups under 10. Our recommendation is to keep groups as close to 10 as possible, but because of the exception, there is some flexibility.

How to Join a Group or

Host One At Your House

If you’re in a Community Group, Community Group leaders are already thinking about this and may be coordinating meetings in homes, so get with your Community Group leader to find out what your group is doing. If you are willing to host a group, let your Community Group leader know!


If you’re not in a Community Group, but would like to host a group for your friends, click this link so we can offer support and best practices.


If you still need to practice stricter social distancing at this time, please find ways to prioritize your walk with God and your connection to the body. We recognize that some of you are older or immunocompromised. While you continue to watch the Sunday Services, we encourage you to fight against isolation. Consider joining your small group using online platforms, or calling someone that day to discuss how God is working in your life.


In closing, we will reassess this as more guidelines become available. In the meantime, let’s not let this pandemic make us the worst versions of ourselves. Let’s be patient as we all figure this out together. Let’s extend kindness towards those we disagree with. Let’s show empathy towards the vulnerable among us. Let’s be known by the way we love and serve others. Let’s embrace the conviction that we need others.


Above all else, let’s keep trusting Jesus and looking for how He wants to work in us and through us in this time. God knows exactly what is going on and God has a plan! We have a God who has proved himself able to work all through history in mighty ways in the face of much more difficult trials than this.


On Behalf of the Elders,

Donnie Griggs
Lead Pastor
One Harbor Church

Host A Sunday Gathering

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